GEC launches revised Purchasers Guide for Addressing Labor & Human Rights in Technology Procurements

May 6, 2021

Catch up quick:

  1. In 2017, GEC released the original Purchaser Guide for Addressing Labor & Human Rights in Technology Procurements. GEC was prompted to develop the Guide by institutional purchasers, globally, who shared their challenges with assuring that the technology products they procured were made in a socially responsible manner.
  2. Technology companies, likewise, share their frustration about responding to an increasing number of labor & human rights related procurement questions.
  3. In response, GEC created a Guide that addressed both parties’ concerns by providing purchasers with a concise set of labor & human rights procurement questions which could be clearly understood by technology companies, ad by identifying credible supporting documentation that technology companies could provide purchasers in response.
  4. GEC’s goal for this Guide revision is to retain the concise, pragmatic nature of the original Guide while at the same time address purchasers’ requests for additional questions and supporting documentation examples that allow them to better assess vendor performance on addressing negative labor and human rights issues.

Why it matters:

The labor and human rights impacts addressed by this Guide are not unique to the technology sector and since this Guide was first released, there has been an increase in both industry initiatives and regulatory requirements to address these impacts. This Guide does not seek to be an exhaustive source of these initiatives and requirements, nor does it claim to address all negative labor and human rights impacts found within a supply chain. Instead, this Guide is focused on empowering purchasers to address pressing labor and human rights impacts while also meeting the goal of a successful procurement. It provides purchasers examples of procurement questions and associated supplier provided supporting documentation.

The big picture:

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights which set out basic individual rights and freedoms. Its foundational principles have led to the creation of international Conventions, laws on human, labor and employment rights, and guidelines to prevent, address and remedy human rights abuses in business operations. Yet, more than fifty years later, human and labor rights abuses remain.

Institutional purchasers play an important role in addressing labor and human rights abuses within the technology sector. Of the approximate $4 Trillion USD spent globally in 2020 on information and communications technology (ICT), more than half, $2.7 Trillion, was from public and commercial institutional purchasers. With such vast spending power, public and private sector institutional purchasers play an important role in influencing companies to make labor and human rights improvements within their operations and throughout their supply chains. Procurement can shape business sector behaviors and purchasers can encourage businesses to adopt practices that are more transparent, socially responsible and publicly accountable. Introduction There are many good reasons why purchasers should include labor and human rights specifications within their procurements:

  • Risk Management – a purchaser’s organizational risk increases by procuring from companies who are not socially responsible because this can lead to potential contract disruptions due to legal challenges, victim claims and reparations, and a risk that the procuring organization’s reputation will suffer by association.
  • Fair Competition – procuring from companies which fail to address labor and human rights abuses within their supply chain creates a disadvantage for companies who have taken the steps, and incurred associated costs, towards creating a more socially responsible supply chain. It is unfair to reward companies who offer products at a lower cost by using unacceptable worker practices such as forced or child labor.
  • Leadership – by procuring products from companies that adhere to legislative and best practice on internationally recognized labor and human rights, purchasers incentivize the adoption of standards and policies which uphold these rights and influence companies to offer a safer and more socially responsible environment for workers, not only in the companies’ own facilities but throughout their global supply chains. Purchasers that implement purchasing policies that address labor and human rights not only help to enforce compliance with international Conventions and labor and human rights laws, but they also help improve quality of life and social equity and justice for some of the most vulnerable members of society.


Download your free copy of the Purchasers Guide for Addressing Labor & Human Rights Impacts in Technology Procurements